Saturday, November 15, 2014

Kodak Bantam RF

I recently acquired a Kodak Bantam for a ridiculously low price on ebay.

Mine looks pretty much like new, and everything works more or less as it should.  Aside from the Bantam name and the 828 film format the RF model had almost nothing in common with the  Bantam strut folders which first appeared in the mid-1930s.  Kodak continued producing the 828 folders for a few years after WWII; the name was then passed on to a new line of fixed lens, bakelite-bodied cameras designed by Arthur H. Crapsey.

The Bantam RF design and the supporting Kodak publicity reflected and helped define the '50s aesthetic.

As I had done with my Flash Bantam, I covered the ruby window on the back of the camera and taped a 24-exposure strip of 35mm film onto the 828 reels.  One nice innovation in the RF model is a roller-based frame spacing mechanism which eliminates the guess-work in advancing the film by counting turns.  The removable back presented a bit of a challenge in the process of film loading inside a dark bag, but I think it will be less of a problem with subsequent rolls.  I exposed the first roll of film through the camera at one of my regular test sites, the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History.

F-16 - new paint job and accessories

USS James K. Polk Submarine Sail - surfaced

B-52B Stratofortress


Jim Grey said...

What great, sensitive and subtle color you got in these shots. And such detail in the photo of the submarine sail.

When Kodak put its better lenses in its cameras, they could really perform.

This camera's style reminds me of my Kodak Signet 40, which is probably from about the same time and is probably also a Crapsey design.

Mike said...

Thanks yet again for the kind words. There was a light overcast on the morning I visited the Museum which helped the color rendering. This was the 13th roll through my batch of Unicolor chemistry. I think I'll call it quits and order another liter kit.

JR Smith said...

I think you got your money's worth out of that Unicolor kit!

Julio F said...

That museum is a very good place to test (and to photograph).

Your Bantam is performing very well indeed. I had never heard of this model with a fixed lens.

Mike said...

I guess the Bantam RF was a last ditch effort by Kodak to keep the 828 film format viable. It ultimately failed, but the last Bantam is really a pretty good little camera. Unfortunately, it was built in such a way as to defy amateur fix-it efforts, and there is zero info on line about repairs.